Maximizing Deliverability

Windows Live Mail Re-Invents Itself

As one of the largest webmail providers in the world, Microsoft has apparently decided that they will not sit back and watch others innovate. Instead, they have decided to re-invent themselves with the new Windows Live Hotmail.

I have spent a lot of time talking with users of Hotmail and other email clients, and based on those conversations, it looks like the new features they are introducing should be interesting for both users and marketers alike.

At the recent Email Insider Summit, it was discussed that there are three types of email users, and I believe understanding these types of users helped Microsoft build their new features.

  1. Piler—These are people that let their inbox grow and grow while only opening certain emails. They may have thousands, if not tens of thousands, of emails in their inbox that have never been opened
  2. Filer—These people keep most of their emails but make sure to put it in a certain file for future reference. There are less emails in the physical inbox, but all of the messages are easily accessible for the user when they need them.
  3. Dumper—Think of the Piler, but every so often (say weekly) they simply delete all of their email that they feel are not important enough to respond to or keep.

So why is understanding these three types of email end-users important with regards to the Re-Invention of Windows Live Hotmail? One of the major changes that will potentially affect marketers is the new Sweep function. This function will allow the users to keep their inbox clean while filing or deleting messages from certain mailers or types of messages such as social networking messages.

According to the Microsoft blog, after a lot of research, they decided to focus on 4 key areas to help their end users:

  1. Take back your inbox. We help you quickly get to the important messages and get rid of the mail you don’t want.
  2. Get more done with the mail you receive. Do more without leaving your inbox, so that you don’t have to open a bunch of browser windows just to get simple things done.
  3. Share over email. Stop hassling with attachment size limits – whether you’re sending hundreds of large photos or massive documents. View, edit, and share Microsoft Office documents even if you or the people you’re sharing with don’t have Office installed on their computers – PC or Mac.
  4. Connect from your phone. Sync your email, calendar, and contacts on your mobile devices – whether you’re using a smart phone like the forthcoming Windows Phone 7, or the iPhone, or a phone that just has a simple browser.

Another important item for marketers to understand is the new Windows Live Hotmail is also integrated with the Office Web Apps, which means you can edit documents directly from your inbox. There is also the new SkyDrive which allows you to store documents in a cloud so there is less concern around file size. I am still unsure how this will work with marketing emails, but it is something that we will need to keep our eye on.

You can find out more about the entire new feature set on the Windows Live Blog.

Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 8:03 AM
Categories: Email, Microsoft, Spam, Windows Live Hotmail

Yahoo latest

So a lot has happened since my last post with Yahoo. Not only have they decided not to accept Microsoft's offer, but apparently they are looking for other ways to compete with them. I have seen a couple of stories that have stated that they are in talks with AOL. So how would this, or even a Google agreement effect your email marketing plans? Well if they were to partner up with AOL, it would probably be the best scenario possible from an email marketing standpoint. AOL and Yahoo have always been the most open with that they expect from senders and give you as much information as possible to implement best practices. Not all ISPs are as open with that they expect as these two, so if they were to partner up, one would assume that this openness would only continue. I will keep watching to see what happens but as I said last time - there are a lot of things to figure out first before it is time to start worrying.

Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 12:40 PM
Categories: AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, delivery

Microsoft offers to buy Yahoo!

As most of you have probably heard by now, Microsoft has offered to purchase Yahoo!. As I was watching the news this morning while getting ready for work and heard this for the first time, my first thought was--wow what does this mean for email? Well I am sure a lot of you have already pondered that same question, but I thought I would share my thoughts with you as well. First, the deal is not done yet, and for those of us that watch this industry as much as I do, it isn't a big surprise. Microsoft has to do something to keep up with Google, so by purchasing Yahoo! they are in a better position to do so. Secondly, if they do close this deal (which personally I would be surprised if they didn't), I don't think changing their email systems will be their top priority. To me, this deal is all about advertising, not email. That being said, I can't imagine that this merger would have any great effect on the email space for at least 2-3 years. Let's think about it for a minute.
  1. Yahoo! and Microsoft/Hotmail use two different authentication methods, which one will they choose, or will they use both Sender ID and DKIM together?

  2. Yahoo! manages a number of other domains through their partnership agreements such as SBC/Yahoo and others, what will they do with those streams of mail?

  3. Will they simply get rid of one system and make everyone migrate to the other?

While these are all great questions that my team and I have already begun to ask, the great news is that we will have plenty of notice before any major changes occur. Through our relationships with both organizations, we will be able to prepare our customers and pro-actively manage any changes that might occur due to this proposed merger. Stay tuned for more on this as the saga continues.
Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 9:25 AM
Categories: DKIM, Hotmail, Microsoft, Sender ID, Yahoo, authentication, delivery, email